THE EVICTED landlords of a pub which closed its doors just five months after re-opening have spoken out against the “servitude” they were put through.

Jeff Ginsbergh and Victoria Sanders re-opened Pepper’s Ghost pub in High Road Leyton, in September, last year, to widespread community excitement.

The pair entered into a five year contract with Britain’s second biggest pub company Punch Taverns, which owns the building, as self-employed contractors.

But after being taken into the community’s heart in their first five months, the new landlords were evicted with “immediate termination” at the start of the March.

As of November, 2016, Punch’s enormous debt pile stood at £1.36billion, just three years after it amounted to £2.3billion in 2013.

While Punch began selling off swathes of its properties across Britain to reduce its debt, it began offering publicans a “retail” contract, under which it could specify the pub’s drinks list, food and pricing but leave the publican to deliver the service.

Mr Ginsbergh said: “We grew the pub 250 per cent in turnover but as soon as we started making headlines in turnover this false deficit was imposed on us which didn’t exist.

“They kept us in a state of servitude, telling us ‘we must be open these hours’ even though they didn’t serve our business needs as a self-employed contractor.”

She added: “It left us homeless.

“We didn’t have any place to go.”

A spokesperson for Punch said the landlords were put under a falcon contract, so they do not pay rent or pay for food or drinks.

They added: “Unfortunately, in the case of the Peppers Ghost, the procedures we put in place with all of our Falcon Pubs were not followed and this has led to significant stock and cash losses.

“Despite our efforts to rectify with the Publican and provide clear guidance and support on proper cash management systems, cash has still not been handled in line with our processes with further cash losses incurred.”